Category: "Education"

Ethiopia - Myliham Elementary School: Promises Kept

October 8th, 2010

Ethiopia - Myliham Elementary School: Promises Kept

Many of us have fond childhood memories of our early school years, be it a favorite teacher, a special class, sports, or music. But too few of us take the time to say “Thank you” to those who made a difference to us or to help the next generation to have similar joy or memories. Not so, for Tsehaye Zemenfes and Hideat Alene, who attended Myliham Elementary School in Mekelle and whose paths crossed while both were in the U.S., Teshaye now in DC and Hideat now in Seattle. They spoke to each other often of how they could give back to the school that had given them so much in their early years. A library seemed like an ideal solution, but was such a project within their reach? Tsehaye was familiar with the work of Ato Yohannes Gebregeorgis, Founder and Executive Director of Ethiopia Reads, and made a point of attending one of his presentations while Yohannes was in DC. Although Tigray was not then part of the expansion plans, Ato Yohannes later contacted Tsehaye informing him of a pilot project in Tigray and asked him if he would like to part of the project. Tsehaye and Hideat jumped at the chance.

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Ethiopia worst place to be a school child?

September 29th, 2010

A provocative report titled "The Worst Place to be a School Child in 2010" is raising eyebrows. The report is sponsored by charity organizations like Oxfam, Save the Children and action Aid.

In the report, Ethiopia is ranked 56th among the 60 poorest countries included in the report. Somalia is ranked as the worst and Eritrea is 59th. But the report has already been criticized by the Economist among others. In a post on the Economist website, it writes,

"But some of the findings look suspect. Are schools in Comoros really among the worst in the world? By what standard is Congo ranked far ahead of Uganda? It is unclear how much GCE researchers got out and about—and the ranking reflects this" the charities who backed GCE, including Oxfam and Save the Children, would have done better to have concentrated minds rather than hearts.


This report came out the same week Ethiopia has been praised as making impressive progress in Education by the United Nations. Even President Obama made a comment on his speech to the UN Millennium Development Goal summit that praised Ethiopia. In the speech he said,

"This brings me to the third pillar of our new approach. To unleash transformational change, we’re putting a new emphasis on the most powerful force [education]the world has ever known for eradicating poverty and creating opportunity. It’s the force that turned South Korea from a recipient of aid to a donor of aid. It’s the force that has raised living standards from Brazil to India. And it’s the force that has allowed emerging African countries like Ethiopia, Malawi and Mozambique to defy the odds and make real progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals"

Ethiopia was singled out by the
United Nations for exceptional progress in providing children access to primary education with a 500% increase in enrollment in the past 20 years. Nearly 90% of boys and girls in Ethiopia are in school according to UN numbers. But these figures are foreign to the authors of the report.

So what to believe? At least when it comes to access to Education, the current government in Ethiopia has the facts on its side. Ethiopia has made huge progress in Education in the last 20 years, the quality may be lacking but definitely Ethiopia is not the worst place to be a school child.

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Ethiopia Cited for Gains in Access to Education

September 19th, 2010

Ethiopia Cited for Gains in Access to Education

By Peter Heinlein

VOA News

19 September 2010

The United Nations is singling out Ethiopia for exceptional progress in providing children access to primary education. Ethiopian schools are struggling to cope with a 500 percent increase in enrollment in the past 20 years.

Principal Aklilu Dawit sits in an empty classroom at Addis Ababa's Urael school, wondering how to handle the expected rush of students this week when doors open for the new academic year.

The Ethiopian government's emphasis on primary education for all has been both a blessing and a curse. One the one hand, the increased demand has stretched the system far beyond capacity. On the other hand, Aklilu says simply having children in class is a victory.

"Quality is one question, but the access to education is one big achievement for the society. Other things may improve later," said Aklilu. "Achievement in education is growing, and many students get different kinds of technical skills to lead their lives. They are creating their own jobs, and have their own visions, they are not dependent on other things, so that makes great change through education."

Fifteen years ago, only about 25 percent of Ethiopian boys and 20 percent of girls ever saw the inside of a classroom. Today the figure in most regions of the country is close to 90 percent for both boys and girls. The numbers of children in schools has gone from 3.5 million in 1990 to about 16 million this year.

Three of the keys have been building more schools in rural areas, training more teachers, and giving local communities a freer hand in deciding how to educate their children.

Principal Aklilu Dawit says though levels of learning are basic, he sees a shift in public attitudes about education.

"Most of the parents did not get a chance to go school before. Nowadays this government is trying to get the children to go to school and advising and consulting the parents to send their children to the school," said Aklilu. "Through education they gain many things instead of passing their time on the streets or other places, they learn how to behave, [and] how to live in society."

A study by the U.S. Agency for International Development, concludes Ethiopia's explosive growth in education capacity is in many ways unprecedented in any country. But getting children into classrooms is just the first step. USAID's Allison Wainer says the bigger job ahead for the government and its development partners will be raising achievement levels.

"Due to the nature of enrollment rates going so high, achievement has been suffering. So USAID continues to work with the government on achievement and quality at the student level," she said. "The system is set up, structures in place, and now, how can we best address the quality issue?"

Raising achievement levels is complicated in an impoverished nation where there are few books, millions of people are nomadic pastoralists, and more than 60 languages are spoken. USAID's Wainer says Ethiopia deserves high marks for policies aimed at addressing its unique challenges.

"In certain areas such as language policy Ethiopia is doing better than other countries, so children are allowed to learn in their mother tongue for primary school, which is a big accomplishment," added Wainer. "Many other African countries do not recognize that as a proper way for children to learn, but Ethiopia did recognize that and the benefits are showing."

By secondary school, most Ethiopian classes are taught in English. But the dropout rate is unacceptably high. From 90 percent in first grade, enrollment falls to 25 percent by secondary school.

And books remain scarce. Wainer says Ethiopia, with financial support from international partners, is using an ingenious method of boosting achievement among high schoolers.

"The Ethiopian government has invested in secondary school, though enrollment levels are low and they are trying to use ICT, information communication technology to help bridge some of the gaps of lack of textbooks, so they have developed a very interesting plasma TV curriculum, supplementary curriculum that teachers can use in high schools," she said. "Research has shown that using those technologies in primary education will also pay off."

The United Nations this week is recognizing Ethiopia's great strides in access to education since development goals were set. But these are the first steps on a long road. Experts say a lot of work is needed before countries such as Ethiopia can stop the 'brain drain', the flight abroad of its most educated in search of opportunity not available in their home countries.


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Ethiopia introduces new education curriculum

Ethiopia’s progress in education: A rapid and equitable expansion of access

Ethiopia introduces new education curriculum

September 18th, 2010

Ethiopia introduces new education curriculum

APA-Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
Ethiopia on Saturday announced the implementation of a new education curriculum for this academic year, which will cost the government around $150 million.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Education said that the new curriculum is aimed at having a significant contribution to the improvement if the quality of education.

The quality of education had been an issue during the last Ethiopian elections in which the opposition strongly criticized the government for not doing enough to provide quality education.

“The new curriculum will contribute to the effective implementation of the Five Year Growth and Transformation Plan,” said the education ministry.

The new curriculum will be implemented both in primary and secondary schools throughout Ethiopia where around 20 million students are enrolled this year.

New text books which were published abroad will be distributed soon, according to the ministry.

ETHIOPIA-GHANA: MDG success stories

September 16th, 2010
Photo: Andrew Heavans/IRIN Students in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa (file photo)

ETHIOPIA-GHANA: MDG success stories

DAKAR, 16 September 2010 (IRIN)
- Many sub-Saharan African countries are off-track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, but there have been pockets of success: Ghana is set to become the first country in Africa to halve poverty and hunger before 2015, while primary school enrolment in Ethiopia has increased by more than 500 percent since 1994, according to the Overseas Development Institute.

Common to both examples has been the sustained commitment of each government to reform the respective sector, say researchers Jakob Engel and Henri Leturque.

“The story of the past 20 years in Ghana’s agriculture sector has been one of incremental yet sustained change, rather than dramatic development,” states the Ghana report. Government-led economic reforms in Ghana, including devaluing the currency, liberalizing markets, and restructuring the then-inefficient cocoa marketing board, helped to boost food production by 80 percent per capita over the past 30 years, says the ODI, and enabled Ghana to become almost self-sufficient in staple crops such as yam and cassava.

After 1983, agriculture grew at 5.1 percent annually, on average, and wider food availability resulted in a drop from 34 to 8 percent in moderate malnutrition between 1991 and 2003. The percentage of underweight children under five fell from 30 to 17 percent from 1988 to 2008, says the ODI.

But there is more to it: “There is a strong link between widening food availability and dropping malnutrition,” Leturque told IRIN, “but it is by no means the only answer – improved health and sanitation, and improved childcare practices, also played a role.” Despite progress in these areas, Ghana is off-track to achieve MDGs 4 and 5, to improve child and maternal health, according to a report by the National Development Planning Commission, released on 14 September.

Education in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, the government set out to improve the education sector when it came to power after the civil war, “recognizing rural poverty was not only a key driver in conflict and inequality, but was also holding the country back and perpetuating the cycle of poverty... and that ensuring children had access to school was key to these broader development goals,” Engel told IRIN.

The government developed education reform plans and gradually upped its education spend from 8 percent of the total budget in 1985 to 23 percent in 2009, with donor education aid also rising. The increased funds went towards abolishing school fees, constructing and improving schools, and hiring and training teachers, among other activities, says the ODI.

Key to meeting MDG 2 (achieving universal primary education) was a move in 1991 to devolve power to regions and districts to run their own schools; and shifting the language of instruction to local languages, says the ODI. In 1994, just three million pupils in Ethiopia attended primary school; by 2008 15.5 million did so, while secondary school attendance increased fivefold.

Local authorities involved parent-teacher associations in rehabilitating and reviving schools, said Engel. “Lots of the investments made created access to households to send their children to school for the first time – there was a genuine appreciation of that, and people started to realize its relevance in their lives.”

But more needs to be done to ensure progress continues - and is equitably spread in both countries. In Ethiopia, high drop-out rates remain in secondary school, quality teaching is still lacking, and some regions, such as Afar and Somali, are lagging behind on primary school enrolment. To get as-yet-unreached children into school, “will take more than school construction; it will take a focus on non-formal education, addressing maternal and child health, and early childhood development”, said Engel.

Agricultural growth in Ghana has also been inequitably distributed: concentrated in the south to the detriment of the north. LINK “A lot still needs to be done to support the north, where there are fewer resources to work with,” said Leturque.